The "Food-Family Connection": Letting Go at Last
And while I was still very young, I found it. I formed, and nurtured, and
above all defended the "relationship" that became my lifeline:
My close, loving relationship with food.
I believe now that the food I loved and could never get enough of, at
least while I was stuffing myself with it, was the family I never got
enough of. I even had my own "family" of favorite foods! Our
"family meals" -- of course eaten alone and if possible out of sight of
others -- included such delicacies as pizza, coconut cake, and pasta with rich,
creamy sauces and lots and lots of cheese.
I felt happy and fulfilled while I ate the food I loved. And then,
naturally, I was miserable, hating myself for what I had done. See a pattern
here? Food was feeding not only my need for close relationships but also my
need -- oh, how it hurts to admit this! -- to feel sorry for myself.
To feel like a victim.
Do you ever feel afraid to lose your excess weight? I sure did. And no
wonder: Losing the weight meant losing the one close relationship I could
depend on to always be there and make me feel good. So even when I did achieve
a substantial weight loss, I gained it back quickly, usually with a few more
pounds for good measure.
I even remember sometimes feeling a sense of relief about regaining
my weight, even as I despaired at seeing my body swell and become distorted
with fat again. I wonder if that sounds familiar to you, too.
Well, that's how I lived, how I got through life, for so many years. Then,
in therapy, two big changes happened:
1) I learned that I was a pretty nice person after all, someone other people
would generally like if they had the chance. So I didn't have to put up
"permanent" defenses like fat, humor at other people's expense, and
isolating from others. I could relax and be myself, and most of the time things
would be OK, just as they are for most people, most of the time.